Sunday, September 05, 2010

Research: Katrina's Mark Is Still Visible

The scenes aren’t always encouraging, but Andrew Curtis keeps going back for more.

Curtis, who teaches geography at USC College, has been spearheading a project to gather video evidence of the devastation and rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Now nearly five years after the storm hit, Curtis’ research, which is focused on the city’s Lower 9th Ward, shows that there has been little improvement.

Homes left uninhabitable sit on plots of land that have been overgrown with vegetation, and some streets are still nearly impassable because they are so damaged.

“It’s shocking how little activity has been going on,” Curtis said. “We’re told Katrina is old news, and that’s the problem for people in New Orleans.”

Curtis started this project while at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. There he put together a spatial video system using multiple cameras connected to a central global positioning system. He hooked the whole thing up to a car and recorded images of what the neighborhoods, specifically the hard-hit Lower 9th Ward, looked like. Using a GPS signal encoded on the video, he then layered it over a digital map so that clicking on any spot on the map will bring up a video of what that area looked like at that point in time. He brought this project with him to USC when he joined the faculty in 2007.

This research includes not only filming but also work with pastors and other community leaders to discuss the most pressing neighborhood matters, which include a lack of services, vegetation overgrowth and a rising crime rate.

Video Research of Hurricane Katrina Damage to New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward

The complete story is here.


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